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Longtime Bob Hope publicist Ward Grant, described by Phyllis Diller as the comic’s “guardian angel,” has died of congestive heart failure, a spokesman for the Hope and Grant families said Friday. He was 75.
Grant, director of media and public relations for Bob Hope and Hope Enterprises for 33 years, died at his home on Thursday, spokesman Harlan Boll said.
He was dedicated to the comedian’s career and worked to preserve Hope’s legacy after Hope died at the age of 100 in 2003. Grant was one of those who worked to have Hollywood-Burbank Airport renamed Bob Hope Airport.
“Dear Ward was such a really nice gentleman,” said Diller, a friend and occasional client of Grant. “He was also such a workhorse. He took care of his client, my dear Bob Hope, like he was his guardian angel.”
Diller said she and Grant played cards together regularly and said, “I’m going to miss him so much.”
Grant was the moving force behind the entertainer’s whirlwind schedule of appearances, TV specials and books during his later life.
A native of Denver and a U.S. Navy veteran, Grant graduated from the University of Colorado. He became an independent publicist working for some of Hollywood’s top personalities including Dorothy Lamour, Fess Parker, Eva Gabor and Ned Beatty.
When he signed on with Hope, he became a fixture at the comedian’s side during his travels and public appearances. He co-authored Hope books like “Dear Prez, I Wanna Tell Ya.”
“Ward was our go-to man,” said Hope’s daughter, Linda. “He was the most conscientious, warm person and always filled with good humor and good will, a great asset to my dad and the Hope family.”
Grant was a senior public relations lecturer at the University of Southern California. He volunteered his time to diabetes research and was involved with Childhelp USA, dedicated to the care and treatment of abused children.
Ward is survived by children Tracy Grant-Rubin, Scott Grant and David Grant; four grandsons and longtime companion Bill Faith.
Plans for a pair of memorial services were in complete, relatives said.
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